Polity on Northland bridges ‘scandal’

Rob Salmond has been doing a lot of work on OAI requests and writing up the results in a series of posts at Polity. If he turns out to be on target with this then a Simon Bridges risks collapsing.

Polity posts:

Northland bridges – OIA scandal (1 of 3)

The paper trail behind National’s disastrous Ten Bridges bribe in Northland is almost comic in how damning it is of Ministers Bridges and English. Here’s the OIA I got back recently from the New Zealand Transport Agency. (Reply, briefing 1, briefing 2, email 1, email 2, email 3)

In this post I address whether or not getting advice from officials took place, and whether it was allowable for this promise, billed by National as a National Party promise.

Northland bridges – OIA scandal (2 of 3)

Overnight, I have received Simon Bridges’ version of events in relation to his abuse of public officials over the Northland bridge bribe.

Hilariously, he claims that the trail of increasingly panicked emails from NZTA officials about the costs of upgrading single lane bridges in Northland had nothing at all to do with National’s promise one working day later to upgrade several single lane bridges in Northland. I’m serious. That’s his actual story.

Northland bridges – OIA scandal (3 of 3)

Following from my earlier posts, readers may recall that one bridge in particular among National’s awful ten bridges bribe got a lot of stick – the Darby and Joan Kauri Bridge.

First, two-laning that bridge got some stick because it is completely in the middle of nowhere, on a rarely-driven State Highway connecting two very small population centres.

Cabinet Manual section 6.60

Chapter 6 is about pre-election periods. Here’s paragraph 60 of that chapter:

Before and after an election, the incumbent Ministers should ensure that any requests they make for advice or information from their officials is for the purposes of their portfolio responsibilities and not for party political purposes.

Someone should show this paragraph, along with my timeline of the advice Simon Bridges received from NZTA about replacement of single-lane Northland bridges just before his political party announced a policy to replace some single-lane Northland bridges, to John Key.

Looks like he’s got a clear case of a Minister in breach of the Cabinet Manual.

I’ll leave the arguments to those who know more about these things. The politicians are at odds:

NZ Herald: Minister should be sacked over bridge pledge – Labour

Labour leader Andrew Little says the Prime Minister should sack Transport Minister Simon Bridges over claims Mr Bridges broke ministerial rules in developing the Northland byelection bridges pledge.

TVNZ: John Key stands by Simon Bridges after he’s accused of breaching Cabinet guidelines

Prime Minister John Key says he has no plans to take action against Transport Minister Simon Bridges following claims he may have breached Cabinet guidelines by receiving official advice on his by-election bridge upgrade promises prior to their announcement.

Leave a comment


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th April 2015

    This is b.s. If a Government makes a promise before a by-election it has to implement it and therefore it has to cost it responsibly and accurately.

    Totally different to before a general election when it may not be reelected. No matter what the Cabinet manual says the Minister was making a promise in his ministerial capacity which he would have to implement and therefore fund.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  15th April 2015

      Just to add the obvious corollary to this, in a by-election if the Cabinet Manual rule were to be applied it would mean the Government’s opponents in the by-election would be free to promise anything they wished and the Government’s candidate would be unable to promise anything new. Farcical nonsense. It shows exactly how incompetent or biased MSM journalism is that this is not pointed out and the opposition’s arguments rubbished.

      • duperez

         /  15th April 2015

        If people are so thick as to think that a Government’s opponents in the by-election promising anything is whistling in the wind, to be taken with a grain of salt or any of a myriad of expressions covering such a situation, is the MSM journalism incompetent or biased for not educating them?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  15th April 2015

          Are you sure you said what you meant to say? It reads the opposite way around to me.

  1. Bridges too far? | Your NZ

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